Chain of Responsibility (CoR) is a relatively new concept in the supply chain world, and it's one that is quickly gaining in importance. It is the principle that all of the parties in the supply chain who influence the behaviour and regulatory compliance of a heavy vehicle driver should be held accountable if their influence results in failure to comply with rules and regulations.
In 2015 a large retail chain settled out of court with a celebrity who had been injured in a crash caused by the large retail chain’s truck driver. The driver was speeding and allegedly had not slept for 24 hours at the time of the accident. The driver had not, however, exceeded his Hours of Service (HoS) driving time under US law. This case has been pivotal in putting a spotlight on the issue of CoR in both the US and Canada. The regulatory environment is evolving, and it will not be long before CoR laws are enacted in both countries.
What does this mean for parties in supply chain operations?
Highway safety is tremendously important in a world where approximately 90 percent of our consumer goods are delivered by commercial truck. Safety regulations and enforcement have been stepped up in recent years, with equipment inspection blitzes and the enactment of Hours of Service regulations for drivers on both sides of the border.
Hours of Service rules are meant to prevent drivers from falling asleep or becoming inattentive from fatigue while at the wheel of big rigs on the highway. They limit the number of consecutive hours drivers spend at the wheel, as well as the cumulative hours each week. But as in the celebrity’s case, sometime these rules are not enough to prevent accidents.
The just-in-time inventory delivery systems used in modern supply chain operations can put incredible pressure on drivers to meet schedules. That’s where the Chain of Responsibility comes in. It's up to shippers and trucking companies alike to ensure that the driver is given the time and tools required to get the job done safely.
CoR is why the large retail chain stepped up to take full responsibility for its driver's actions in the celebrity’s case. Even though the company was not immediately responsible for the crash, it did the responsible thing in taking the blame and making restitution. It is that kind of culture of safety that CoR promotes.
For those involved in supply chain it's time to consider how your actions might affect the way freight shipments are handled. Whether you are part of a manufacturer, retailer, trucking company, freight broker, 3PL or distributor, there are actions you can take.
Hiring a carrier gives you a measure of control over schedules, routing and pricing of a load. Taking steps to ensure the driver can make the pick-up and delivery without delay, making the routing logical and efficient and ensuring that rates are reasonable, all contribute to a positive Chain of Responsibility. Learn more about the ICECORP Experience!
For some companies this is already the way business is done. For others there is probably some work to do to adopt a culture of safety where the potentially negative—or catastrophic—downstream consequences of poor planning are understood.
On the practical side, it's important that the truck driver and his time are treated with respect. This means ensuring dock schedules—at both ends of a trip—are met, and providing drivers a place to rest, eat or shower if they are delayed; making sure routes are planned, dispatchers and schedulers trained; and finally, ensuring that the drivers themselves are aware of and use fatigue management techniques.
With an impending regulatory framework for Chain of Responsibility coming soon, why not take the time now to examine your company's practices. Adopting a culture of safety is not just good planning, it's also good corporate citizenship.